Get the Facts about Public Pension Funding and Reform Efforts

The latest urban legend is that most public pension plans are poorly funded and their demise will bankrupt hundreds of governments. At the Tuesday, May 24, general session for the 105th Annual Conference in San Antonio, GFOA Executive Director and CEO Jeffrey L. Esser moderated a panel discussion on “State and Local Government Pension Plans: Myths versus Realities.”

The panel – Honorable Anthony Williams, executive director of the Corporate Executive Board and former mayor of Washington, D.C.; Keith Brainard, research director at the National Association of State Retirement Administrators; and Pat Robertson, executive director of the Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi – clarified crucial points about the real state of state and local pension plans, including the following:
  • Public pension plans are not about to run out of money.
  • Public pension plans are not assuming unrealistically high returns on investments to make liabilities look smaller.
  • Public pension plans are not facing a fiscal crisis caused by the pressure to pay down pension underfunding.
  • Public pension plans are not trying to hide anything through their reporting practices; virtually every plan posts a copy of its most recent CAFR on its Web site. 
  • There are differences between public- and private-sector pension funds that make straight-forward comparisons difficult to impossible.

Watch the video for accurate and reliable research by pension experts revealing that public pension plans are not in crisis, and that states and localities do not require and are not seeking a federal government bailout for their pensions.